ISA Update: American SUP Coach Resigns, Fate Unclear for US Team

Ian Carnes lead a stacked US paddling team to multiple gold medals at the 2015 ISA Worlds, including Sean Poynter's in the men's SUP surfing division. Who will carry on the torch? Photo: Greg Panas

Ian Cairns lead a stacked US paddling team to multiple gold medals at the 2015 ISA Worlds, including Sean Poynter’s in the men’s SUP surfing division. Who will carry on the torch? Photo: Greg Panas

ISA Update: American SUP Coach Resigns, Fate Unclear for US Team

For top American paddlers, visions of the 2016 International Surfing Association (ISA) World SUP and Paddleboard Championship just got a little fuzzier.

On Monday, the US paddling community received an impromptu announcement (via Facebook) that the longtime head coach of the American ISA SUP team, Ian Cairns, has instated his immediate resignation. Cairns—formerly the inaugural director of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)—was the head coach of the US ISA team for four years.

“I find myself losing interest in dealing with the whole US Team experience,” Cairns wrote in his letter of resignation to Greg Cruse, executive director of the ISA. “Especially as I have achieved my personal goal of winning another World Championship.”

That World Championship came last year in Sayulita, Mexico, where the US team took gold in six of the nine paddleboard events in the ISA Worlds, a testament to Cairns coaching ability and the diverse array of talent that resides in the US.

With the team roster for the 2016 US SUP team still undecided, pro American paddlers aiming to be involved are a bit befuddled by the whole scene. But there’s more to the story of the 2016 American ISA team than no coach and no players.

Last weekend, Cairns spearheaded a spontaneous tryout competition at Huntington Beach that took place with few to no elite athletes in attendance, lead to a non-conclusive result and eventually influenced the most recent decision to once again hand-pick the team members. The athletes weren’t happy about that, and Cairns’ waning interest coincides with what may be a coup de grâce for the noncompetitive selection process.

So, how are the athletes responding?

“I really don’t know,” said champion racer and gold medalist on the 2015 ISA team, Danny Ching. “I just told (the ISA), ‘Tell me if you want me to show up and I will be ready. If you want me to tryout, tell me when and where and I’ll be ready. Just pick it and stick with it.”

“I just want it to be fair,” American World Tour SUP surfer and Series racer, Giorgio Gomez says. “Sean, Danny, Izzi, Candice—they should all be challenged for their spots, just like the champions are in other countries.”

“I think this could be a positive thing; it might spark some shift in the selection format.”

According to executive director of Surfing America and orchestrator of the ISA Worlds, Greg Cruse, that’s exactly what’s about to happen.

This is a positive thing,” Cruse wrote in an email to SUP mag. “We have a ton of great people coming onboard and we will be making a big announcement on our plans next week.” —MM

Stay tuned for updates as we find out more about the fate of the American ISA SUP team.

A look back at last year’s ISA Worlds in Sayulita.